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August 20, 2020

Telehealth and Patient Engagement in a Post-COVID World

As we transition to a post-COVID-19 world, telehealth will remain extremely important

While telehealth was first introduced to the healthcare industry in the 1950s, prior to COVID-19 it was seen as a novelty and faced many barriers to adoption such as reimbursement, regulatory challenges and more. In fact, according to our recent survey of more than 650 physicians, only 18.7% of providers offered telehealth pre-COVID. 
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Now? Over 90% of providers report offering telehealth and it is being used by roughly half of U.S. patients. Moving forward, physician needs, increasing patient demand and evolving payment models will continue to shape post-pandemic delivery of care.

Telehealth Is Helping Our Healthcare System Remain Strong

Prior to the pandemic, telehealth was primarily used to improve medication management, monitor chronic diseases and triage sick patients. Once COVID-19 hit, its use exploded. It is now being used in many more unique ways, including enabling physicians to safely evaluate asymptomatic patients who have been exposed to COVID, care for patients that do not want or cannot go to a physical office, and continue seeing patients while under quarantine themselves, which has supported critical revenue flow.

During this time telehealth has not only been a lifeline for practices, but has often become a preferred option for patients as well. Over 40% of consumers have used telehealth since the pandemic began, and many have become accustomed to the flexibility, safety and convenience it offers. In fact, over 76% of patients are interested in using telehealth going forward.

Virtual Care Will Remain a Necessity for Patient Engagement Post-COVID

With more than 8 in 10 patients saying they love/like telehealth after using it since COVID, telehealth is no longer a novelty - it is a requirement to stay in business. While there is still uncertainty amongst providers as to how long they anticipate it will take for their practices to be back up and running at pre-COVID-19 visit and reimbursement levels, providers who implemented telehealth via Updox are more certain that they will be back up and running in 2-6 months compared to those who selected another partner for telehealth. 

Physicians report telehealth to be very to extremely important to the future of their practice, with over 95% reporting they are planning to offer telehealth in the future. However, the biggest barrier physicians see to long-term adoption of telehealth is reimbursement.

COVID-19 has forever changed healthcare delivery, and telehealth is not likely to drop back to its pre-COVID rates. With patient and physician needs growing, reimbursement has become a priority for lawmakers. A number of new bills have been introduced to Congress for telehealth coverage beyond COVID-19 and many states have also taken steps to ensure that current COVID reimbursement models will remain. However, it’s important to continue encouraging long-term reimbursement.

As we transition to a post-COVID-19 world, telehealth will remain extremely important. However, telehealth is just one piece of the puzzle. Practicing healthcare in a post-COVID environment includes implementing a full virtual care strategy for the growth of your practice and increased patient engagement. To learn more about evolving patient expectations, virtual care in the post-COVID environment and how to support reimbursement, download our 2020 Virtual Care Report.

Topics: Blog, telehealth, telehealth services, covid-19